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    Cadwallader D. Colden Autograph Letter Signed in full. Four pages, 8" x 9.75", Harlem Near New York, October 28, 1822. It reads in part, "The question is then, did the state of New York do an injurious act towards, Rhode Island or towards any of her sister states when she made exclusive grant to Fulton under which we claim? It seems to me that this question will be best answered by supposing that when Fulton applied to the state of New York, he had addressed himself to the state of Rhode Iland. (sic) Had by anticipation, represented all the advantages of steam navigation as they are now enjoyed; had represented that he could not make the experiments and expend the money necessary to make effectual experiments without he could be assured of an exclusive right to the use of his inventions for a limited time, without such exclusive right he would reap no advantage tho he should be ever so successful in the execution of his plans."

    The letter is no doubt making reference to Robert Fulton and his steamboat plans. Fulton had died in 1815, and his intellectual property is what is being discussed in this letter between Colden and Caddington Billings. After the steamboat was introduced, there were years of rivalry and disputes as to the originality of the idea and the actual father of the design. Regardless of Fulton's place in the pantheon of inventors who lay claim to the steamboat's inception, Fulton deserves credit for giving the steamboat the precedence as a passenger carrying conveyance as well as for transportation of freight. All attempts at this before Fulton proved fruitless and inefficient. Colden, the son of the colonial leader of the same name, himself was a statesman and politician who devoted much of his later life to the completion and technology of the Morris Canal in New Jersey. His connection to waterways and freight conveyances are what ties him so closely to Fulton and his inventions. Colden even wrote a biography of Robert Fulton's life and inventions. The content of this letter is fascinating, and it would be extremely desirable for any inventor or transportation enthusiast! The paper is slightly age toned, but the ink is crisp and dark, fine overall. The letter comes with a complete typed transcription of the text.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
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